LBI “I Do” Wedding Road Show

Welcome to LBI!

My husband and I were invited to attend the LBI “I Do” Wedding Road Show on Sunday, April 18, 2010 by Erik Kent of which was organized by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.  If you don’t already know, is a Jersey girl’s go-to website for everything wedding related in New Jersey.

We met up with Erik at the chamber and met some of the event’s sponsors and chamber staff. The event was designed as a way to showcase Long Beach Island (LBI) and show why it’s one of the growing hot spots in New Jersey for weddings. Couples would have the opportunity to travel at their own pace in their cars to each venue, which would have a variety of exhibitors featuring their wedding services.  Couples could get a special book stamped by each vendor they visited, return it to the chamber office, in hopes of becoming the big winner to win an all expense paid wedding. Wow!

While we waited to start our tour, I began chatting with Annie Esposito, a Bridal Show Coordinator for is a great website that is nationwide and with just a click of a mouse couples can search their Vendor Search Directory, Reception Site Locator, Wedding Song Directory and check out some great planning tools.

Throughout the day Frank Dicopoulos (Guiding Light) hosted for NJ Discover as they live-streamed the day’s events.

Ronald Faillace, President of Trolley Tours, Inc. greeted us as we boarded the trolley. The trolley would be taking the media/press and a few others around to each wedding venue for the day. It was such a fun way to tour the great island of LBI. The trolley’s are available to wedding parties in addition to a wedding motor coach (bus) also available to wedding parties or guests so that everyone can have a good time at the wedding and arrive to their destinations safely. The back of the trolley says “Just Married” so you can tell the world that it’s your big day. This is such a cute way to add some creativity to your wedding day.

The first stop on our trolley tour was to the Holiday Inn Manahawkin, where I was greeted by a mimosa. What a welcome! I walked into the room and immediately spotted Kevin Moninghoff from the Alliance for Wellness and was treated to an amazing massage. While I was being massaged, NJ Discover came over with Frank and interviewed Kevin on his holistic center and myself on the massage. I didn’t say much, I was way too relaxed. Kevin is not only open for business at his spa in Manahawkin but he travels and will be more than welcome to go to any location with his tables and give massages. Wouldn’t that be a nice way to relax before the big day? Getting a massage in your hotel room or bridal suite? Or even a nice treat for a bridal party? I’m sold. They also offer Site Corporate Massages and Pilates and Yoga classes.

Katie getting a massage by Kevin while Frank interviews from NJ Discover

The Stateroom was our next stop which offers a variety of ceremony sites including beach, bay front or a garden ceremony. What girl doesn’t love options?   The Stateroom is where I found the best cupcakes I have ever had. A Sweet Memory is a cookie & cupcakery owned by Annmarie Cooney which is out of this world! Not only are her cupcakes a feast for the eyes, but the margarita cupcake I tried was a feast for my tummy. It was the best cupcake I have EVER had! I also met Marie Addonizio of La Di Da which is a makeup and lash studio. I was so excited to hear they do threading. That is a service that is very hard to come by. Marie is an esthetician, makeup artist and massage therapist. Katie Reynolds Hood decorated the tables of this venue with beautiful tablescapes from the Reynolds Garden Shop. I grabbed a pretzel dipped in chocolate from the Philly Pretzel Factory located in Lakeside Village in Manahawkin, NJ. Shear Heaven Salon & Day Spa was there and offers some great packages in addition to their spa parties.

Yummy treats!

Next stop was the Surf City Yacht Club.  Moester’s Bakery had a large display of cakes available to sample. I opted to test the cannoli cake, which was delish. I chatted it up with the owners of Small Potatoes which is a catering company and after viewing their menu, I was drooling. They have plans to open a restaurant in the near future. Red Sails Salon was well represented at this event offering reasonably priced services for men, women and children.

The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club is “the only premier ocean front wedding venue on Long Beach Island” and is a full service catering facility with the option of customizing anything to the extent of their ability. At the Sea Shell Resort couples can have a poolside cocktail hour and hang out in their tiki huts and enjoy a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. We entered this venue and were greeted by Barbara Crowley the harpist from our wedding. We were so excited. We headed off to the bar and grabbed a glass of champagne and took a stroll outside, taking in the beautiful scenery.

Barbara Crowley, harpist

Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club

Brant Beach Yacht Club was another stop in our travels.  They pride themselves on being “one of Long Beach Island’s most spectacular waterfront wedding reception venues” and they assure you that “your day will be everything you’ve ever dreamed”! After checking it out, I couldn’t agree more.  I grabbed a piece of salt water taffy from the Parties by Design NJ candy buffets. After all, salt water taffy is a Jersey shore staple. Tammy’s Cake Walk had some beautifully displayed cakes which showcased her beach themed designs. Perfect for a beach wedding! Roberto’s Dolce Vita a Northern Italian/Continental Cuisine restaurant has a menu that sounds divine and we were thrilled to receive a 15% off coupon, another place we will have to visit.  Bistro 14 in Bay Village was passing around a medley of samplings that were out of this world. I particularly loved their crab cakes and chocolate mousse. I can’t wait till they open for the season; we will have to check it out for the full experience.

Daddy O Boutique Hotel and Restaurant was our second to last stop on our tour. The establishment is very hip and chic with a South Beach vibe. My husband and I regularly visit LBI and enjoy the beach atmosphere and charm of the town, but Daddy O reminded me more of a lounge in NY, not very LBI. They were the only stop on our tour that didn’t offer beverages or snacks and there were only 2 vendors at this location. Quite honestly, I wasn’t that impressed. I didn’t feel especially welcome there and it didn’t have that warm, friendly feel of LBI that we all love. However, I did notice they had fried pickles on their menu and haven’t had them since I was vacationing in Florida as a child. I may need to go back to try them out.

Our final destination was Mallard Island Yacht Club which was the pièce de résistance of our whole trip. Unfortunately many of the vendors had already packed up by the time we got there, but it’s no wonder this is such a hot spot for weddings. Everywhere you look, you have an amazing view of the beach, the island or the Barnegat Bay. It’s truly unbelievable. Erik Kent from recommended we take a look at the enormous bridal suite they have. I don’t need to explain how amazing it is. You can watch a video tour of the bridal suite here…  

This event was spectacular! I wish I had been to a bridal show like this when I was getting married. I was able to check out a variety of venues with exhibitors at each. It wasn’t crowded like most bridal shows tend to be. Lori Pepenella of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce along with Erik Kent of did a phenomenal job orchestrating the event.  It was very well planned and thought out. My husband and I had a blast!

Participating Venues at the road show included: The Boathouse, Bonnet Island Estate, Brant Beach Yacht Club, Daddy O Restaurant & Boutique Hotel, Holiday Inn Manahawkin, Long Beach Island Foundation of the Arts & Sciences, Mallard Island Yacht Club, Sea Oaks Country Club, The Sea Shell Resort & Beach Club, The Stateroom, Surf City Yacht Club and the Tuckerton Seaport.

Media Sponsors of the event included: New Jersey Bride,, New Jersey Department of State, travel and Tourism, Media, (201)BRIDE and Magic 100.1 was the Broadcast Sponsor.

Jerseylicious Red Carpet Premiere

Not for nothing, but this past Sunday, I was looking pretty Jerseylicious as the hubs and I headed off to the “Jerseylicious” red carpet premiere at LUA in Hoboken, NJ. Being that I’m a Jersey girl and a reality TV lover, this was the place to be.

LUA Restaurant, Hoboken, NJ

We arrived at LUA and the place was already hopping. Everyone was in great spirits and excited to congratulate the cast of Gatsby Salon’s” Jerseylicious.” We found a spot near the bar and I quickly realized we were right near all the action. The cast and their families were all around us.  I walked up to a few of the cast members and congratulated them on the show. I must say, the cast really worked the crowd, walking around saying hi to everyone. No signs of Alexa or Olivia though.

The premiere was organized by The Hip Event in Montclair, NJ and they assured me that the cast will be answering questions in the press room. About half an hour after being there, we went into the press room, each cast member spoke to each person from the press. I had already thought about what questions I would ask. I wanted to be original and fun, like my Blues Traveler interview. Enough of the “what are you wearing, what do you think of the Jerseylicious v. Jersey Shore” business.

Jerseylicious Cast Gigi Liscio, Anthony Lombardi. Tracy DiMarco, Gayle Giacomo and Christy Pereira (l-r)

First up, Anthony Lombardi, who owns the Anthony Robert Salon in Verona, NJ.  Anthony and I already chatted it up a bit earlier and I knew he was a totally down to earth guy. I’m not one to brag, but before Anthony and I started the interview he told me that my husband and I were his faves. I’m not shocked, we’re Jerseylicious too. We were there to have a good time and watch a fun show about our home state, Jersey baby.

Anthony said he’s proud to be from Jersey and that’s what makes him Jerseylicious. “I’m proud of everything the State has to offer. I love everything about this State, I’m a Jersey boy at heart and I wear it on my sleeve and if that makes me Jerseylicious, so be it” he stated. When I asked Anthony what Jersey celebrity he thought had the best style, he took off his hat, displaying his shaved head and said “I gotta say Bruce Willis. He’s another Jersey boy that lets it all out there, he made it big and he’s not afraid to say he’s from New Jersey.” Anthony always uses a little Bay Rum on his head after shaving and says it feels fantastic.

Christy the salon manager, who is also Gayle’s daughter, came over to speak with me next.  She is proud to be a Jersey Girl and said “I think all us Jersey girls have our own style and originality. We’re loud and bold and not afraid to say what we want to say.” Christy’s favorite NJ celebrity is Bon Jovi. “Even for a gentleman, he has great hair, he always looks great. I love the fact that he’s never too dressed up. He’s my all time favorite.” Christy’s go-to style product her Gatsby hairspray.” I can’t live without it” she said with excitement. Who knew the Gatsby Salon had their own product line? I sure didn’t. At one point during the night I was able to chat it up in the ladies room with Christy. We talked about Twitter and I offered to give her a Twitter 101 lesson if she ever wanted. I told her it’s a great tool to market the company and herself.

Gayle Giacomo, Gatsby Salon owner, says she really likes style and has always liked to look nice. “I want to be the best I can be, even at 52. I think our women in Jersey care about what they look like, it means a lot to us.” She really looked beautiful for the premiere. Jon Bon Jovi would have agreed, he’s her fave Jersey celebrity. Her favorite products are the SkinCeutical line and Kérastase for her hair.

Another new addition to the salon, Gigi is full of personality and said that her hair and nails are what makes her Jerseylicious. She is proud of her nails and stressed that they are real and she cut them down recently. She stated “being Jerseylicious means being well put together, feeling good about yourself and being confident.”  For cosmetics Gigi loves MAC and for hair she likes Chi hairspray, Kérastase and Goldwell.

Last but not least, I had the opportunity to chat with Tracy who was looking super stylish in her leopard print dress and teased out hair. I asked her what makes her so Jerseylicious and she said “I think that I don’t take no for an answer, I don’t let people tell me what to do. I mean I’m my own person, I’ve never followed anyone in my life.”  She discussed her role on the show and said she’s pretty much the “I don’t take anything from anybody kinda girl”. Tracy said we will see that and how Olivia tries to push her around but it doesn’t really work out for her. Like Gigi, Tracy said her hair is the most Jerseylicious thing about her.  She is a self-proclaimed tease queen. “Tray tease that’s what everyone calls me.”  Jerseylicious is about personality and, being friendly and nice to everyone, she said. “I mean it’s the greatest place to be, Jersey, and everyone needs to stop hating on it.” Hear Hear!

Asking Tracy what NJ celebrity’s style she adores she stated without hesitation “Bruce is pretty up there”.  Being that my husband is a huge Springsteen fan, and Anthony already stated he loves Bruce Willis’s style, I needed to clarify. My husband was eagerly awaiting an answer.   “Bruce Springsteen or Bruce Willis? If you say Springsteen, my husband is going to be very happy” I said. “Oh yeah I was saying Springsteen. Who doesn’t love Baby Bruce?” Tracy replied. So now we know who my husband’s favorite Gatsby Girl is, Tracy, without a doubt.

Tracy is a huge fan of Chi Helmet Head hairspray. She swears your hair won’t move and stay in place forever. “People say oh my hair doesn’t stay. That product, it will never let your hair fall. It’s the best thing on the market” Tracy declared.

We ended up grabbing a drink with Tracy at the end of the night when the place was clearing out. We talked about Bruce (Springsteen that is), the show and more. I was a pleasantly surprised how nice Tracy was. I saw the previews before the premiere, and they make her out to be the not so nice one. But like she said earlier in the night, she’s just a Jersey girl who doesn’t take no for an answer and isn’t a follower. I can respect that. She’s really just a Jersey girl. Since I’m a Jersey girl born and raised, I get it.

Guests watch the premiere of Jerseylicious

Next up the viewing party. There were TV’s scattered around the bar and we all gathered around cheering on the cast and watched the premiere episode. The show is about the re-invention of the Gatsby Salon in Green Brook, NJ. The owner Gayle decided to renovate Gatsby Salon a decade after her husband’s passing, with the help of her daughter Christy, the salon manager. Not only did they want to change the physical look and feel of the salon, by updating it, they wanted to bring in some fun younger new stylists to help with the salons re-birth. The cast is full of bold, bright personalities with tons of style and flair. The remaining episodes will document the lives of the new stylists as they enter a new journey with the Gatsby Salon.

Right before we left LUA, we ran into Brielle Morelli, a Season 2 Jerseylicious hopeful. Brielle is hoping to land a role as a featured cast member for next season. She’s super sweet and we are crossing our fingers for her.

After meeting this super cool, down to earth cast, I am without a doubt a Jerseylicious fan. The show is fun and totally Jersey. How could you not love it?

Make sure you check out Jerseylicious on the Style Network Sunday nights 10/9 c.

Follow the cast on Twitter:


Originally written for

Photos courtesy of The Hip Event.

Cheer Ya Up Cheddar & Beer Soup

Recently I cam across a killer recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network’s site. I of course had to make my own adjustments to the recipe. This is the perfect dish for a cold night during the holiday season. It’s also a great dish for only 2 people since no other food is needed, it’s sooo filling. Although, some nice sour dough bread would have been great with it. Next time I will def try it in a sour dough bread bowl.

Here’s the dish:

1/2 lb. kielbasa sausage, finely chopped and crumbled

3 Tbsp. olive oil

2 cups chopped yellow onion

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp. garlic, minced

8 tbsp. flour

6 cups chicken stock

2 cups lager beer (preferably amber)

Dash of thyme

4 cups grated cheddar cheese (I used 1 1/2 pkgs. of 8 oz. shredded cheddar)

Cook the kielbasa in olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat until golden brown. Add the onions, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Cook until onions are slightly carmelized (12-15 mins). Add the garlic and cook until fragrant about a minute. SPrinkle the flour over the onions and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the stock and beer. Add the thyme and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Add the cheese a little at a time, stirring until nearly completely melted after each addition. Remove from heat, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.


It's Not Just Texas Chili

After years of experimenting with a wide array of chili recipes from books, websites and word of mouth, I am proud to say my search for the perfect chili has ended. All thanks to a little wedding gift I received called “Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook” by Mary Corpening Barber & Sara Corpening Whiteford. I’ve been talking it up for a while now, so I figured I should pass along this killer recipe to all my friends.

If you are like me and prefer a more soupy chili rather than one that’s totally chunky and has no sauce… you’re search too has ended. This chili recipe is so unbelievably flavorful and feeds an army. Ok maybe not an army but it will totally feed a Boy Scout troop, no doubt.

I typically make my chili in the morning or early afternoon and let it sit so that the flavors develop even more. Before I’m going to serve it, I just heat it up for a few.

Here’s the dish on Texas Chili:

Whatcha Need:

1 Tbs. Bacon Grease or Vegetable Oil

2 Medium Yellow Onions, chopped

3 Tbs. Chopped Garlic

3 Tbs. Chili Powder

2 Tbs. Paprika

1 Tbs. Cumin

2 Tsp. Dried Oregano

1 lb. Ground Beef Chuck

1 lb. Italian Sausage Links, removed from casings and crumbled

2 Tsp. Kosher Salt, plus more as needed

2 cans (28 oz, each) Crushed Tomato Puree

1 can (15 oz.) Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) BBQ Baked Beans, drained

1 Tbs. Minced Canned Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce, plus more as needed

Heat the bacon grease (or vegetable oil) in an 8 quart heavy bottomed stockpot over medium heat. (I always use vegetable oil.) Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and stir until the spices are well combined. Add the ground chuck, sausage and 1 tsp. of the kosher salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the meat, stirring frequently, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings with more kosher salt or chipotle chiles if necessary (I add a bit more of the chiles).

Serve the chili with some of these fixin’s:

Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Chopped Green Onion

Sour Cream

Crumbled Corn Chips/Tortilla Chips

Red Pepper Flakes

Chopped Jalapeno Chiles


This recipe is so tasty that you really don’t need any fixin’s at all, but it does make a lot. So if your not making this for a big crowd, you will have tons of leftovers and might want to switch things up a bit by adding some of the fixin’s for your leftovers.

I like it best with some shredded cheddar (my hubby prefers no fixins) and we either dip tortilla chips in it or eat it with some cornbread.

This is a great dish to bring to a World Series Party, Superbowl Party or to a Potluck Dinner. We like to have it on a cold rainy “stay inside” weekend while watching shows we DVR’d during the week, movies or re-runs of our fave 80’s shows.


Enjoy and let me know what you think. I’m certain that your search for the “perfect” chili has now ended.


Do you follow me on Twitter? @kdevito

"You Know You're From Princeton…"

September 28, 2009

You Know You’re From Princeton…

By: Katie DeVito (Follow me on Twitter @kdevito)
Recently we polled our Twitter and Facebook friends on the following question…

“You know you’re from Princeton…”

Here’s What We Got:

…when you know the better, less trafficked Thomas Sweets is in Palmer Square.
…if you ever carved your name in a table at PJ’s Pancake House.
…if you’re a regular at the Princeton Record Exchange!
…if you’ve dumped your cd collection at the Princeton Record Exchange to get extra scratch.
…if you know Dick Swain.
…if you know which store houses the “Albert Einstein Museum”.
…when you almost ran over Cornel West because he likes to jaywalk. Stick to the crosswalks Cornel!
…if you remember The Annex.
…if you know what the Dinky is.
…when you shop at Merrick’s for a big event.
…when you show up at a dinner party with cupcakes from Bent Spoon as a hostess gift.
…if you’ve skateboarded in the parking garage by the old Gap store.
…if you park for free on PU campus on nights & weekends.
…when your pizza delivery guy shows up in a BMW!
…if you are on a first name basis with Chris at Lahieres.
…when it takes a Trader Joe’s to get you to cross Route 1.
…because you know how to eat in your car when there’s no parking in town.
…if you’ve watched a number of movies be filmed in Princeton (Beautiful Mind, IQ, Transformers 2).
…if you know what “spices” are at Hoagie Haven.
…if you have a “default” favorite at Hoagie Haven.
…if you’ve eaten a cheesesteak from Hoagie Haven at the “fountain”.
…if you’ve broken into Princeton classrooms to eat your Hoagie Haven.
(*Princeton Scoop does not support breaking and entering)
…when you take a bag of Small World Coffee with you on vacations.
…when your little league victory party ends up at pizza star and dairy queen.
(from @blues_traveler)
…because you follow Princeton Scoop on Twitter @princetonscoop and Facebook for everything Princeton.

**Responses were compiled from our Twitter and Facebook friends.
Special thanks to the following Twitter friends: @dynowright, @ginamonari, @IVRepresents @kdevito, @njdevito, @njspice, @princetonscoop, @SermonOTheMount, @visitprinceton, @blues_traveler

Special mentions: @hoagiehaven @Princeton, @cornelwest, @blues_traveler

Written for Princeton Scoop ( by Katie DeVito.